Vivendi to aquire Activision

Vivendi SA said Sunday that it plans to acquire a controlling stake in Activision Inc. and combine the company with Vivendi Games in a deal that would create a rival to Electronic Arts Inc. as the world’s largest video game publisher.

The combination of Santa Monica-based Activision, whose titles include “Guitar Hero,” “Call of Duty” and the “Tony Hawk” series, and Vivendi Games, which publishes “Crash Bandicoot” and owns the online role-playing franchise “World of Warcraft,” would create the world’s largest pure-play online and console game publisher, the companies said.

Vivendi Games will convert its equity into Activision shares valued at $8.1 billion, and Vivendi will buy an additional $1.7 billion of stock, for a total of $9.8 billion, giving Vivendi a 52 percent stake in a new company to be called Activision Blizzard. On that basis, Activision and Vivendi valued the combined company at $18.9 billion.

Vivendi’s Irvine, Calif.-based Blizzard Entertainment is behind the top multiplayer online role-playing game franchise, “World of Warcraft,” which the company says has more than 9.3 million subscribers worldwide. Blizzard’s Warcraft and Diablo series are two of the top-selling video game lines of all time.

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